WIHI: Unprofessional Behavior Not Permitted Here

Date: July 1, 2010


  • Barry Silbaugh, MD, MS, FACPE, CEO, American College of Physician Executives
  • Kevin Stewart, FRCP, Medical Director Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Trust; Health Foundation Fellow, IHI
  • Charlotte Guglielmi, RN, CNOR, Perioperative Nurse Specialist, BIDMC; President, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses
  • Gerald B. Healy, MD, Emeritus Healy Chair in Otolaryngology, Children’s Hospital (Boston); Senior Fellow, IHI
  • Ron Wyatt, MD, MHA, General Internist, Huntsville Hospital (Alabama); Merck Fellow, IHI
Over the years, the positions held by doctors in health care organizations have unfortunately empowered some to behave unprofessionally towards other staff and practitioners, especially nurses. Giving a pass to belligerent or temperamental clinicians, even while many of those affected quietly seethe, has been tolerated in part because of the pecking order in medicine, and in part as a nod to the organization’s sources of revenue.
Well, the times are a changing…and not just because hospitals are worried about their reputation or retaining staff. Those in a position to confront a culture that’s permitted outbursts and intimidation now consider such behavior a contributor to medical errors, and a major disruption to the teamwork and robust communication that’s so critical to patient safety and quality improvement today. It’s a start. And nurses with a penchant for coming down hard on other, less senior RNs, or giving new interns and residents a hard time, are also being called out.
WIHI host Madge Kaplan gathers an expert panel to parse out these complicated and controversial issues, get a handle on what regulators have to say about unprofessional conduct, and learn about a new determination among professional societies and hospitals to face up to behavior that truly has no place in a safe, high performing organization. The guests have stories to share and, most importantly, are tracking the solutions and policies that show the most promise. There’s word that that newer generations of health professionals are more willing to stand up to inappropriate behavior of colleagues and superiors alike. That’s the right spirit… now we need the systems to back this up.


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